I think it’s safe to say I feel a little “Torn” over this episode.
This episode was full of triangles, some that I didn’t fully expect. I did like most of the episode and I thought all the relationships displayed were handled pretty well, though there were some moments that tugged at my heartstrings in the wrong way. I’m going to be tackling each of these plots one at a time, starting with the biggest one: Cordell and Twyla.
The episode begins with Cordell getting ready for a day out with Twyla, helping her find a new apartment to live in. Liam notices that he’s dressed up for the occasion and expresses his concern over his brother’s newfound love interest. The last time Cordell was involved with Twyla, he was in a dark place emotionally and he was literally a different person. Liam also seems concerned about Geri’s feelings in all this, which Cordell brushes off, saying that Geri has made it very clear to him that she’s not interested in their romantic relationship. He insists that what he has with Twyla is casual and therefore nothing to worry about. Liam says that he’s not the “casual” kind of guy but Cordell continues to brush him off. He then finds the picnic basket that Liam was looking for and heads out on his way.
Side note: Did anyone else have a moment of clarity when Liam said he and Bret got engaged after six months? They didn’t even get through the honeymoon stage.... [Esther explores Liam and Bret's downfall in "The Day Briam Sank"]
While on the road, Twyla thanks Cordell for helping her and asks if he ever gave serious thought to running away with her. He stumbles around the answer to the question, eventually admitting he thought of it as a passing fancy and nothing more. Before the conversation can carry on further, Denise calls Cordell to interrupt his morning off for a case. She’s not pleased to know that he’s with Twyla but it works out because she needs to be there, too.
At Ranger HQ, they are informed of a new mission. There’s a horse auction in Austin and there’s reason to believe that someone is using it to launder money. They need Twyla to look through the financial records to spot who the suspicious buyer and their inside man is, with Cordell and Cassie there as backup and additional eyes. During this meeting, Cordell is a bit aggressive toward Denise and is very protective over Twyla, despite her insistence that she’s fine.
The case itself is simple and over relatively quickly. Twyla gets into the computer with little issue and quickly finds a few notable suspects before settling on the most likely candidate. Cordell is momentarily distracted by a rider slipping off his horse but he recovers quickly with Twyla’s voice in his ear. When she realizes they’ve been found out, she tries to leave only to be stopped by the suspect. He tries to intimidate her but Cordell steps in and calls in backup. The resulting fight is quick, though nearly deadly, and ends with Twyla and Cordell tossing the suspect through a glass door.
With the case out of the way, they go back to Twyla’s motel room for some alone time. After a very passionate roll in the hay, we see them talking about some of Cordell’s woes, specifically the race. Though Cordell doesn’t seem keen on discussing it, Twyla insists that something strange happened during the race if he lost to Dan Miller. Cordell eventually steers the conversation toward their relationship and the happy times quickly return to their place under the covers.
The next day, Cordell shows up at Twyla’s room with a bouquet of roses. She’s surprised and asks what the occasion is. He says it’s in honor of their “Day 0” because he wants to pursue something serious with her. She seems unsure but agrees.
Following this, we see Cordell looking for August at the Side Step and he asks Geri if she’s seen him. She tells Cordell he’s washing dishes and quickly changes the subject to his newfound romance with Twyla. She insists that she isn’t jealous but that he should really think about how their relationship will affect the other people in his life, like her or the kids. Twyla was a part of a dark time in his life and had a role to play in some painful times for his family and pursuing a relationship with her can only cause trouble. She’s just worried about the kids, you know. She’s totally not jealous at all and regretting her decision to cut off the Walkers and make friendly with the Davidsons. She’s just concerned for the kids.
After this, we see Cordell and August having dinner together. Twyla comes up at the end and Cordell formally introduces her to August. Everyone except Cordell seems uncomfortable. Twyla starts by apologizing for the role she had to play in the hurt the Walkers have been through in the past few years. August was probably the best person to start this with as he was the one that found the picture of Cordell and Twyla together and was most affected by it. August accepts her apology, though he doesn’t seem too happy to see her. Cordell tells August that Twyla plans on sticking around for a while and an uncomfortable silence settles over the table. August then expresses his relief that that was all they had to say on the matter as he was worried this whole introduction was about Cordell and Twyla dating. After all, things are finally starting to settle and be okay for them and bringing her in might cause some discord. When Cordell steps in to say that they were actually planning on dating, Twyla interrupts and says that they agreed that it would be a bad idea to go down that road together.
The next day, Cordell tries to talk to Twyla again but she’s left her motel room completely empty. Come to find out, she requested a transfer to another county without telling him. While she does care for him, she knows that their relationship just wouldn’t work. He isn’t the Duke she knew and them being together would cause too much trouble for him. While saddened by this revelation, Cordell has to admit that she’s right and they say a final goodbye before she leaves with her new bosses.
Later, Cordell and Liam discuss the new developments in their love lives. Things are going well for Liam but Cordell is having to come to terms with the kind of man he is and how that’s going to affect his dating life. He's a family man through and through and, as much as he loved Twyla, he couldn’t bring himself to do anything that could potentially separate himself from his family again. He also says that the only reason things worked so well with Twyla is that he was literally being a different person with her, someone who lacked obligations and responsibility and could go run off into the sunset at the drop of a hat. Liam, while glad that Cordell has finally admitted to being a “serial monogamist” (whatever that means), makes the promise that if Cordell ever does find himself in a situation where following his heart does lead him away from them, he will fully support that move.
Side note: Ben is objectively wrong. Picnics are great and Liam was very sweet in planning one for them. The “ramen dinner in” was a huge downgrade. You’d think a wine specialist would have better taste....
The next big relationship debacle handled in this episode is with Stella, Todd, and Colton. We start off with Stella and August arriving at school. Stella waves at Todd through the fence while she strokes her mother’s necklace with a dreamy smile on her face. August immediately spots what’s going on and tells Stella that she needs to tell Todd the truth about her feelings. She brushes him off initially but, after some pushing, she claims it’s not an easy conversation to have. August is not sympathetic to her plight and tells her to get on with it, just in time for Todd to arrive. She starts to tell him that they need to have a serious talk later but he interrupts her with the news that he got into the same school she did, meaning they won’t have to take their relationship long distance. Though caught off guard, Stella puts on a smiling face and insists that they celebrate the good news.
Later, Stella chases after Colton in the hall and stops him from going to class to talk to him. She wants to know if he was serious about his feelings for her. He says that he’s very serious and admits that he’s felt this way about her since their first meeting in the parking lot. He also says that being mean to “the girl [he] had a crush on” probably wasn’t the best move. Since the parking lot fight was the first time they met, I’m going to assume the crush came about during Gale’s apparent cyberstalking and trash-talking of the Walker family prior to the Davidsons returning to Austin. In the background, we can see Todd watching their talk with a concerned expression on his face.
Later, the senior class is gathered in the gym for some fun and games for Senior Week. Todd watches Colton and Stella make heart eyes at each other before he “accidentally” throws a basketball at Colton’s head. After Colton tells him to watch it, he throws the ball right into his back, starting a fight. A crowd quickly gathers and Stella works her way to the front of it, telling both boys to stop to no avail. When Trey steps in to pull them apart, Todd ends up elbowing him in the face, bringing everything to a stop. Trey tells both of them to leave the gym and tells everyone else to get back to what they were doing.
In a separate classroom, Trey sternly tells both of them to tell him what the hell they were doing out there. Both boys are silent and he tries to pull the truth out of them by telling them that if they stay quiet, they’ll both get standard suspension. Todd speaks up then and takes responsibility for starting the fight. Trey tries to get them to say why and the boys are quiet. He correctly deduces that it can all be tied back to Stella and gets both of them to shake hands and calls it a day. He holds Todd back to lightly reprimand him for fighting. He says that if Stella wants to end their relationship, it’s her choice. He also references his breakup with Micki and says that both people have to want the relationship for it to work.
While I do agree with the message Trey was trying to impart about respecting other peoples’ wishes in a relationship, I felt like he was telling Todd it was wrong for him to be upset about the situation, which didn’t seem fair. Stella was lying to him and playing with his feelings while she waffled with her own. He’s right to be upset about how Stella handled things. What he did wrong was attacking Colton, who was an innocent party in all this.
The next day, Stella and Todd sit next to each other during a slideshow presentation for the Senior Superlatives. Stella tries to apologize for what happened previously but Todd brushes her off. When a picture of them pops up as “Cutest Couple”, Todd seems pleased but Stella becomes upset and rushes out of the gym. Later, Todd catches up with her and asks her what happened, though he already knows. Stella finally breaks up with him and tries to explain herself, but Todd stops her. He respects her decision to end things and tells her he’ll see her at college in the fall.
Stella approaches Colton after and tells him that she officially broke things off with Todd and they can be a couple now. After all, things are “peaceful” with their families for now; what better time to get together? Neither of them is under any delusions that the peace will last but they aren’t going to let that stop them from making this work. The scene ends with a happy kiss.
The final big relationship that this episode tackled was between Geri and Denise. In the last episode, it was briefly mentioned that Denise was being a bit frosty toward Geri and now we got to see it full force.
It starts with Geri calling Denise to confirm dinner plans while she’s in the middle for a case. Denise is polite but distracted by the arrival of Cordell and Twyla and eventually uses the case as an excuse to cancel their dinner plans. Geri tries to be understanding of this but she’s clearly bothered by how Denise is putting her off.
The next day, she goes to the DA’s office to talk face to face about their relationship. She starts with an almost rehearsed-sounding line about how, in all this deception, they were both robbed of a sister but now they have a chance to make things right. Without being able to hide behind her work, or a phone, Denise finally tells Geri that part of the problem she’s having with their relationship is knowing that Geri’s adoptive father was Marv Davidson’s murderer. Geri responds with how difficult it has been for her to handle Marv giving her up at such a young age and going to great lengths to keep her away from her family. She says that both of those men hurt them in undeniable ways but that they owe it to themselves, and each other, to move past that as their fathers’ actions do not define them. Odd that this rule didn’t apply to the Walkers but I digress. Denise finally suggests that they go out for drinks, much to Geri’s delight.
We see them at the Side Step later in the episode. Denise is recounting a Bad Neighbor story and they’re both laughing. Once they calm down, Denise admits that it’s nice to have someone that she can talk about things with now, since her mother is hardly the best listener. Geri is happy to hear this and promises to be that person for Denise. Looking up, she eyes “Denise The Deer” boar head that has proudly hung in the Side Step for years, and announces that she’s finally going to take that thing down. Denise initially protests as it was a gift from Emily Walker, to which Geri responds that Emily would’ve wanted her to feel welcome there. She asks her bartender to put the head in storage as a sign of goodwill between them.
Side note: Did anyone else feel like Geri was putting words in Emily’s dead mouth?
Before we move on to the big plot point of the episode, I am pleased to announce that Trey Barnett has finally been deemed worthy of a plot!
We start with Trey and Cassie having an aggression session at the ranger gym. Cassie is talking about how well her relationship with Ben is healing and mentions going to see Lucas’ grave. Trey hopes that they plan to do lighter stuff and Cassie tells him about a book signing trip they’re planning, featuring the great Hawk Shadow himself. Trey doesn’t know who she’s talking about but he’s saved from her explanations by the appearance of Larry James.
James is happy with how the counseling sessions are going but he tells Trey there’s a problem with the DPS: they want him to work there full time. This would be a major conflict with his schedule at the school and Trey doesn’t feel ready to leave the kids yet. James assures him that he doesn’t have to make a decision right away but they will need an answer soon.
Toward the end of the episode, Trey comes to James with some big news. He’s going to finish out the school year with the kids but after that, he’ll be coming to work with the rangers full time. James is happy to hear this and promises to get everything cleared with the DPS. After Trey leaves, James pulls a badge out of his drawer and picks up his phone. He dials a number and tells the person on the other end that he has an excellent candidate for the empty ranger position.
Now, to round off our recap, there’s an interesting note during Liam and Cordell’s conversation at the end of the episode.
Cordell brings up something that Twyla said to him during their brief honeymoon phase. Twyla thought it was strange that Cordell would lose to someone like Dan Miller. While Cordell doesn’t discount Dan’s skill on the horse, he can’t stop thinking about what happened to his saddle. He tells Liam about the rider he saw earlier at the auction, who fell off his horse because the saddle he was using wasn’t properly secured. Bringing it back to the race, he says it’s damn near impossible that his father, who’s been working with leather and saddles for decades, would make a saddle that just broke during the most important race of their lives. Liam quickly picks up on where this is going and voices it: there’s a very good chance that the Davidsons cheated and did something to the saddle in order to secure a win. While this is something that many of us have been speculating for a while, I’m glad to see the Walker brothers catching up.
And that brings us to the end of the episode. Stella and Colton are determined to make a go of things as are Denise and Geri. Meanwhile, Cordell has had his heart stomped on once again and he’s coping with the pain by focusing on something else, namely the fishy results of the race. Cassie wasn’t as present in this episode but the upcoming episode descriptions imply that’s going to be changing for the final three episodes. Where all this is going, only time will tell. Personally, I think it’s going to end with the Walkers back on their rightful land and the Davidsons being run out of town after Gale finally confesses to killing Marv but we’ll just have to wait and see.
What did you guys think of the episode? Were you satisfied with the end of Twydell or just happy that it had nothing to do with Geri? How long are Colton and Stella going to last with the rising tensions between the families? And which mysterious Davidson meddled with Cordell’s saddle? Let me know what y’all think in the comments!